I’ve always been a list person. First pen and paper, then on electronic gadgets. I even asked my parents to buy me a PDA at the age of 14 so I could make better to do lists. Anyway, as you can imagine I’m a nerd for productivity and GTD apps. Here is a compilation of my top ten productivity apps:
From Things to Remember the milk, Apple reminders to Evernote, I’ve tried them all. Wunderlist is the one app that helps you craft a relevant to-do list, and then see it through to completion. The best part is that you can share lists and make unlimited sublists for free! Their paid version is highly customizable and not overly complicated with superficial features designed to make you part with your money like some of the other apps out there. . While the list making and the sleep interface of the previous versions were pretty awesome, what I like about the latest Wanderlist 3 is that they’ve made it extremely easy to share lists, upload files, share comments and collaborate with others. Wunderlist’s seamless integration on all platforms – complete with real-time syncing on various platforms like iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle Fire and the Web make it a convenient substitute for some of the expensive project management software out there.
Wunderlist has come a long way from the first version. For someone looking to manage entire projects off of Wunderlist that their project tracking capabilities are still primitive. For everyday productivity, I’ve set up my Wunderlist so that I get reminder emails when something is due, or when a colleague checks off an item. Some examples of things I’ve used it for include summer travel lists, collaborating with my sister for places we wanted to visit, assigning tasks for group projects, multiple lists for different projects makes it easy to organize the different aspects of your life.
This new media darling has literally all the features you will ever need. Need a place to jot notes? Check. Need to make a to do list? Check. Want to save a website to browse at a later date? Check. While I find this integration a little slower than Wunderlist (depending on your internet connection), its still pretty fast and arguably the most powerful productivity app out there. Evernote is a one-stop-shop for clipping notes, collecting pictures, making lists as well as clipping web content.
The one drawback of Evernote is that it takes a bit of education to learn to use it really well. As a first-time user, evernote can be a bit intomidating and not so user-friendly. The way I use Evernote in my everyday work is by recording audio clips of important lectures, taking notes, clipping interesting web content and for keeping all my content in one place. Again, the integration across different mobile platforms makes Evernote very handy when working on the move.
This is one of the oldest and most efficient cloud storage solutions that I’m aware of. If you’re looking for a single place to store different kinds of files (e.g. powerpoints, excel, word documents, photos), Dropbox is unmatched in its speed and user-friendliness. More recently, other newer cloud storage apps have started floating around the internet but I have found Dropbox to be the one that just works perfectly on all devices.
The one drawback of Dropbox is that after you run out of your free storage space, you either have to earn points by inviting friends and sharing dropbox on social media, or you have to purchase extra storage space for subscriptions of $10.99 a month.I use it mostly for reviewing my lectures on the go. But it’s also a very common tool in my family for sharing photos and videos. Alternatives to Dropbox include Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, iCloud.
This is the ultimate public accountability app. Often, when working by ourselves, the social aspect of working and staying on track gets missed. The List website claims that “You are not alone on Lift”. If you want to harness the power of social media to ramp up your productivity, this is definitely the app for you, because they’re big on community interaction and public accountability. Every time you login, it also shares that with your friends. Within the app are various goals that you can set and work towards. Every day that you achieve the goal, you login and comment and it tracks the number of days you went without skipping.
While the social media shares can get annoying, especially if you’re failing to meet your goals, I think that is the essence of social accountability sites like these. I use lift to improve my own daily habits. Some of my Lift goals include drink 2L water everyday, write a well-researched Liftree blog post everyday, remember to clean my bunny’s cage, attend 60 minutes of hot yoga and even breathe deeply sprinkled as reminders throughout the day.
This website has one message, and one message only. Write or die. Literally, there is one big text box on the page with a timer and running word count on the bottom, and you write without distractions. Do you find yourself not able to concentrate when trying to put words down on the page for that big history paper? Try this app, and notice how easy it is to write when you have a timer. There is even a blinking red screen and a panic alarm to scare you into writing faster. If you slack off for a few seconds, fall far behind your set rate of writing or generally waste time, the app will literally scare you into focus. Let all your ideas come out on paper without censoring, the more fodder you have, the better you can sculpt it.
While the web version of the app is free, you have to download it for $20 if you want to use it offline. I use write or die when I want to brainstorm new ideas, complete free writing exercises to come up with blog posts, as well as for finishing research projects on time.
This app uses the pomodoro technique by setting a timer to 25 minutes of work and 5 minutes of rest. Focus Booster is great for disciplining you into working with focus and then making a point of taking breaks to maintain productivity. Often, many of us get into the “zone” but afraid of taking a break lest we lost that productive streak, we just trudge on trying to work despite getting tired or bored of the project. This is actually counterproductive because taking a quick break would ensure that we are fully engaged with the work when we come back to it after a break. Focus booster is great for reminding yourself to take these much-needed breaks – after 3-4 regular sessions, it also reminds you to take a big 15-20 minute break. Alternatives include Howler timer for Mac, and the Online Stopwatch website. How awesome is this little tool, ticking away to help you stay on track.
ColdTurkey (Windows) / SelfControl (Mac)
This simple to use app is essential to conquering our pervasive online addiction and complete lack of self-control. It not only temporarily (you can also schedule blocks in advance) blocks you out of social media sites, addicting websites, games and even programs but is smart enough to know when you are trying to fool it. So forget trying to uninstall the program while its running or restarting your computer to circumvent its brute force. This is the ultimate bad cop- making you work so much faster without all the distractions. The best part of it all- it’s free!
With this tool, you can eliminate the need for a personal assistant, and put the internet to work for you instead. You can create “recipes” using multiple channels to do things that you had only imagined in your dreams till now. Some examples of recipes: Get an email to let you know if its going to rain tomorrow. Send a thank you tweet to someone who retweets a link. Post the same picture to 3 different social media websites without actually opening even one.
This nifty tool collects any and all of the webpages that are of interest to you. It is marketed as save for reading later, but I send many sites to pocket even just as a seamless bookmarking tool. The best part is, once you’ve saved a particular webpage or article to pocket, you can view it offline later. Check out this article on using Pocket with IFTTT to create a fantastic alternative to confusing RSS readers.
The one drawback of pocket is that unlike comparable apps like Readability and Instapaper, Pocket doesn’t offer any options for plugging into other social networks or the service’s own data to find the most popular/shared pocket pages. I use pocket for commuting or when I have little or no internet access. In fact, earlier this year, I spent a few days on the Indian railway, travelling to Jaipur and surrounding areas, and using Pocket on my cell phone was a fantastic alternative to hauling around a heavy book, or dragging along my tablet or reader. I got a ton of research done on the go and could travel freely without worrying about slacking off or falling behind for the Liftree launch.
Have you used any of these? Do you have any other favourites that I missed on this list? Comment below, and share the knowledge!